Greg Funk, Jennifer Zwicker, Tuca Alvares and Vishaal Rajani (Credit: University of Alberta)
Researchers from the University of Alberta are capitalizing on one of the hottest new neuroscientific research trends—combinations of optical and genetic techniques called “Optogenetics”—in an attempt to help improve the treatment given to premature infants.
Led by neuroscientist Greg Funk, who received a five-year, $778,000 research grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, University of Alberta researchers use both optical and genetic research methods to study how the brain controls breathing. Specifically, Funk and his team will apply optogenetic research by shining various wavelengths of light on different areas of the brain in order to study the rhythms responsible for breathing.
Working with additional researchers Alex Gourine from University College London and Sergey Kasparov from the University of Bristol, the University of Alberta team will use their optogenetic techniques to investigate the role of . . . → Read More: Shine a Light on Research: Using Optogenetics to Help Premature Babies Breathe Easier
Virtual reality is more than just video games and entertainment.
BKIN Technologies co-founders Ian Brown (seated) and Stephen Scott with the KINARM Assessment System (Credit: Queen's University)
Case in point: a new Canadian invention is taking virtual reality and using it to understand, assess and heal brain injuries.
Dr. Stephen Scott, professor of neuroscience at Queen’s University, has developed a new technology that will aid healthcare workers in evaluating brain injuries and disease.
The KINARM Assessment Station (Kinesiological Instrument for Normal and Altered Reaching Movements) uses a chair with robotic arms and a virtual reality system in order to test brain function. Patients using the KINARM system are led through a series of virtual exercises and tests like hitting balls with virtual paddles.
When complete, the system generates a report comparing the patient’s brain behaviors to normal brain behaviors—allowing healthcare workers to identify variations and assess brain injuries . . . → Read More: Robotic Arms Lend a Virtual Hand to Brain Science